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Diversity and Inclusion

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Grinnell College to Host Award-Winning Authors Marlon James and Roxane Gay

Internationally acclaimed, bestselling authors Marlon James and Roxane Gay will visit Grinnell College on April 5 and 6, respectively, as part of Grinnell College’s Writers@Grinnell series.

James won the 2015 Man Booker Prize for Fiction for A Brief History of Seven Killings, making him the first Jamaican author to take home the U.K.’s most prestigious literary award. He will lead a roundtable discussion at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in Room 101 of the Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell. He also will give the Annual Distinguished Author Lecture at 8 p.m., in the same location. This annual event is funded by a generous donation from an anonymous donor.

In his presentations, James will discuss his writing process, as well as the issues he explores in his work—Caribbean history, race and gender in the U.S. and U.K., and youth subcultures as expressed in literature and music, especially hip hop and reggae. A professor of English and creative writing at Macalester College, James has had his work published in Esquire, Granta, Harper’s, The Caribbean Review of Books, and The New York Times Magazine, among others.

On Friday, April 6, Grinnell College Assistant Professor of English and award-winning author Alissa Nutting will interview Gay, a best-selling author and cultural critic whose writing is widely revered. The interview will start at noon in Harris Center Cinema, 1114 10th Ave., Grinnell.

Gay’s work has garnered international acclaim for its reflective, no-holds-barred exploration of feminism and social criticism. With a deft eye on modern culture, she brilliantly critiques its ebb and flow with both wit and ferocity. She recently became the first black woman to ever write for Marvel, authoring a comic series in the Black Panther universe called World of Wakanda.

Her collection of essays, Bad Feminist, is considered the quintessential exploration of modern feminism. NPR named it one of the best books of the year and Salon declared the book “trailblazing.” In 2017, she released her memoir, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body, as well as a collection of short stories titled Difficult Women. Gay also is a contributing op-ed writer for The New York Times, and formerly was co-editor of PANK and non-fiction editor at The Rumpus. Her writing has also appeared in McSweeney’s, The Nation, and many other publications. 

All events are free and open to the public.

Sponsoring the James events are the College’s Writers@Grinnell series, the Center for Humanities, the Institute for Global Engagement, and an anonymous alumni contributor. The Gay event is sponsored by the College’s Center for Humanities, the Department of Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Scholars’ Convocation Committee.

Grinnell College Hosts Islamic Awareness Week

The Grinnell College Muslim Student Association will host Islamic Awareness Week, beginning Sunday, Feb. 11, at Grinnell College. All events are free and open to the public.

"I hope this week provides the Grinnell community an opportunity to learn more about the experiences and the struggles of Muslim Americans in this country," says Farah Omer ’19, co-president of the Muslim Student Association. "And to borrow from Professor Caleb Elfenbein, our goal for the programming is to present something other than an apologist view of Islam. We want to highlight the lives of Muslims — the debates that animate life within Muslim communities, as well as some of the struggles that mark life for Muslims in the United States."

On Sun., Feb. 11, the film Between Allah and Me (and Everyone Else) will be screened at 4 p.m.in Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, Room 152. This award-winning film explores four Muslim women's challenges as they decide to start or stop wearing the hijab. The movie will be followed by a panel of Grinnell College faculty and students who will discuss their own journeys and challenges with the veil.

Debra MajeedOn Monday, Feb. 12, Debra Majeed, professor of religious studies at Beloit College, will give the keynote address at 7:30 p.m. in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. Her address is titled "Born for the 21st Century U.S.: Unmasking Illusions About Muslim Female Identity."

On Tuesday, Feb. 13, Caleb Elfenbein, associate professor of history and religious studies, and his two student research assistants, Julia Schafer ’18 and Farah Omer, will present their research project, "Mapping Islamophobia: Visualizing Hate and Its Effect." The project documents incidents of Islamophobia in the United States and efforts of Muslim Americans to humanize themselves in the face of increasingly hostile attitudes towards Muslims. The event will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 101.

On Wednesday, Feb. 14, Grinnell College students will present their Mentored Advanced Projects (MAPs) about Islamophobia in American public life beginning at 4:15 p.m. in Rosenfield Center, Room 209.

Mazahir SalihOn Thursday, Feb. 15, Iowa City Councilwoman Mazahir Salih will speak about running for public office and issues that matter to her as an Iowan and an American. The event will begin at 4:15 p.m. at the Drake Community Library, 930 Park St., Grinnell, and will be followed by an open reception.

Islamic Awareness Week will conclude at 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, when a public jumma prayer will take place at the College's Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice. Henna, arts, crafts, and Turkish culinary delights also will be offered at 4 p.m. in the CRSSJ.

In addition to the Muslim Student Association, the week of events is supported by the Grinnell College Institute for Global Engagement, Center for the Humanities, French and Arabic department, Religious Studies department, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, Center for Religion, Spirituality, and Social Justice, the Student Government Association, the Program in Practical Political Education, and the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights.

They Call Me Q

Quarrat Ann Kadwani will perform her one-woman show, They Call Me Q, at Grinnell College on Monday, Oct. 23. The performance will begin at 7 p.m. in the Harris Center Concert Hall, 1114 10th Ave., Grinnell.

They Call Me Q is an autobiographical one-woman play, written and performed by Kadwani. The show, which is free and open to the public, documents Kadwani's story as she grows up in the Bronx as a girl from Bombay, India. In the course of one hour, she transforms into 13 different characters who have shaped her life. The show focuses on her attempt to balance the pressures of her traditional parents and seeking acceptance in her new culture.

The NY Theater Guide proclaimed They Call Me Q to be "filled with charm, humor and heart." BroadwayWorld: Washington's review described Q as "a personal look at the experiences that have shaped who Qurrat has become and who she's striving to be that simultaneously and expertly addresses the complexities inherent to defining identity in our contemporary, messy world."

Kadwani is an award-winning actress, producer, MC, TV host and philanthropist. She is the first South Asian female to have a solo play produced Off Broadway for which she has won awards including Best Actress, Best Play, Trailblazer from the South Asian International Performing Arts Festival and Cultural from the Asian American Pacific Islander Coalition.

She holds a bachelor's degree in theater from State University of New York – Geneseo, where she earned a double scholarship for her acting and directing contributions. She is also the founding artistic director of eyeBLINK, a multicultural nonprofit promoting social change through theater and dance.

The play is sponsored by Intercultural Affairs; Diversity and Inclusion; Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies; and Theatre and Dance.

UNITY Project Celebrates Individuality and Community

Members of the Grinnell community are invited to take part in an interactive art project designed to celebrate the uniqueness of each member of the community and raise awareness of how labels are impacting our perception of and interactions with the world.

Participants will string yarn between poles labeled with statements that reflect their identities to create a yarn canopy of human connectedness, ultimately showing that we are all connected by something.

The UNITY Project, 1033 Broad Ave., Grinnell, Iowa, will be open to the public the following days/times:

  • September 21, 4-7 p.m.
  • September 22, 5-8 p.m.
  • September 23, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • September 24, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Sponsors include Grinnell's Offices of Intercultural Affairs, Diversity and Inclusion, International Student Affairs, and Community Enhancement and Engagement. The Grinnell Arts Council is a community partner.

Technology and Human Rights Symposium

The Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations and Human Rights is sponsoring a Technology and Human Rights Symposium from March 7-10, 2017. The symposium will feature visiting authors and scholars who will discuss a wide array of topics.

All of the events are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, they will take place in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101, at 1115 Eighth Ave., Grinnell.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

4 p.m.

Evgeny MorozovAuthor Evgeny Morozov will open the symposium with "Do We Have a Right to Our Data? Data Ownership and the Inequality Debate."

Morozov is author of The Net Delusion and To Save Everything, Click Here. His monthly column about technology and politics appears in The Observer in the United Kingdom and in newspapers in Germany, Spain, and France, among others. His writings also have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other publications. Previously a senior editor at The New Republic, he has been a fellow at Georgetown University and Stanford University.

Wednesday, March 8

4 p.m.

Mark LatoneroMark Latonero will present "Data, Technology and Vulnerable Populations."

Latonero is lead researcher for the Data and Human Rights initiative at the Data and Society Research Institute in New York City, where he is also a visiting scholar at New York University. At the University of Southern California, he is a research professor and the research director of the Annenberg Center on Communication Leadership and Policy, directing its Technology and Human Trafficking initiative. He works on tech and data-driven problems that involve vulnerable populations, including refugees. He has published numerous reports on the role of online, mobile, and data-driven technology in human trafficking, child exploitation, and migration.

7:30 p.m.

Sarah LabowitzSarah Labowitz ’04 will discuss "The Robots Are Coming: Technology, Work and Labor Rights."

Labowitz is co-director of the New York University Stern Center for Business and Human Rights and a research scholar in business and society at NYU Stern. She conducts research on human rights in different business sectors, with a particular focus on fast fashion. She previously worked at the U.S. State Department on cyber policy, Internet freedom, and human rights. She also has worked for the Fair Labor Association, the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, Yahoo, and Human Rights First.

Thursday, March 9

11 a.m.

Opal Tometi will give the Scholars' Convocation lecture, titled "The Role of Technology in the Black Lives Matter Movement. The lecture is co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Tometi co-founded Black Lives Matter, a movement to confront systemic racism, anti-black violence and social justice, in the wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida in 2012. She is executive director at the Black Alliance for Just Immigration. Based in New York, Tometi is Nigerian-American writer, strategist, and community organizer advocating for racial justice, immigrants' rights, and black lives.Her interest in immigration reform was born out of personal experience. She grew up in Phoenix as the child of immigrants who moved to the U.S. from Nigeria.

4 p.m. in Faulconer Gallery

Joan LinderVisiting artist Joan Linder ’92 will present a gallery talk about her exhibition, "Operation Sunshine." The Faulconer Gallery — located in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts, 1108 Park Ave., Grinnell — is sponsoring this segment of the symposium, which will be followed by a reception at 5 p.m. in the rotunda of the Bucksbaum Center.

Linder uses drawing to uncover how history can be buried: as artifacts in the ground, and as documents in the archive. She will discuss how her art explores brownfields and toxic waste sites near Niagara Falls, and delves into the related documents. Linder lives and works in Brooklyn and Buffalo, New York. She is the department chair and an associate professor of drawing at the University of Buffalo. Her work focuses on drawings that transform mundane subjects into rich images.

Friday, March 10

4–8 p.m. in Burling Library Lower Level Computer Room
Human Rights Wikipedia Edit-a-thon. Everyone is welcome.

W. Kamau Bell Curve: Ending Racism in About an Hour

​Comedian, political satirist, and host of CNN's United Shades of America will perform a show both humorous and thought-provoking at 6 p.m. Tuesday, February 28, 2017, in Harris Center Cinema.

"If you want to experience thought-provoking political and racial commentary with a smile on your face, don't miss W. Kamau Bell," says Sarah Purcell, director of the Rosenfield Program.

W. Kamau Bell is a sociopolitical comedian who is the host of the Emmy Award nominated, hit CNN docu-series, United Shades of America. Before United Shades, Kamau was best known for his critically acclaimed, but criminally short-lived FX comedy series, Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. The New York Times called Kamau “the most promising new talent in political comedy in many years.” Kamau is also proud to be the ACLU’s Ambassador of Racial Justice.  Kamau is also the host of Kamau Right Now!, a public radio talk show that airs on KALW in San Francisco. And he is also excited about his new politics podcast with his friend, comedian Hari Kondabolu, called Politically Re-Active.

Kamau's visit is sponsored by the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights, President's Office, Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies, the Center for the Humanities, and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. The Harris Center Cinema is equipped with an induction hearing loop system, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

The College welcomes the presence of minors at all age-appropriate public events and for informal visits, with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult assumes full responsibility for their child’s safety and behavior during such visits or events. In these cases, the College expects that an adult responsible for the visiting child takes measures to ensure the child’s safety and sees that the child complies with directions of College personnel. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus. The program may contain strong language and content not suitable for all audiences.

Pulitzer Prize-winning Novelist Junot Diaz Visits Campus

Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Junot Diaz will read from his work at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, 2016, in Joe Rosenfield '25 Center, Room 101. Diaz also will lead a roundtable discussion about writing fiction at 4 p.m. in Rosenfield Center Room 209. Both events are free and open to the public.

Diaz is fiction editor of the Boston Review and the Rudge and Nancy Allen Professor of Writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Diaz's work, which often focuses on immigration and feelings of displacement, is particularly salient amidst current debates around immigration. Former President Obama said in an interview with The New York Times that his work speaks "to a very particular contemporary immigration experience," with stories of people who are "steeped with this sense of being an outsider, longing to get in, not sure what you're giving up." 

Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in New Jersey, Diaz writes prolific stories of the Caribbean diaspora, American assimilation, and negotiation of identity. His novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, tells the story of three generations of a family living in the Dominican Republic and the United States. It won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Diaz also is the author of critically acclaimed Drown and most recently, the short story collection This Is How You Lose Her, a New York Times bestseller and National Book Award finalist. In 2012, he was awarded the prestigious MacArthur “Genius" Fellowship. He has received the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others.

Sponsoring this event are the Student Organization of Latinxs; the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights; the Office of Diversity and Inclusion; Intercultural Student Affairs; Writers@Grinnell; Student Activities; and the Student Government Association.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. Rooms 101 and 209 are equipped with induction hearing loop systems, which enables individuals with hearing aids set to T-Coil to hear the program. Accommodation requests may be made to Conference Operations.

The College welcomes the presence of minors at all age-appropriate public events and for informal visits, with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult assumes full responsibility for their child’s safety and behavior during such visits or events. In these cases the College expects that an adult responsible for the visiting child takes measures to ensure the child’s safety and sees that the child complies with directions of college personnel. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.

In Defense of Pop Culture

Lisa Doris Alexander ’97 presents “In Defense of Pop Culture: What Film, Television and Sports Tell Us about Race Relations in the United States” in a free, public event at 11 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, in Joe Rosenfield ’25 Center, Room 101.

Alexander, associate professor of African American studies at Wayne State University, will discuss the current state of race in popular culture in three cases, including:

  • white-washing and gender-bending,
  • Shonda Rhime’s portrayal of black women on her television shows (Scandal), and
  • the implications of San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s protests against racial injustice.

She argues that while pop culture is often not seen as “scholarly,” because these movies and television shows are created by human beings, their implicit and and explicit biases may be seen in their work and should be investigated.

Alexander graduated from Grinnell with a bachelor’s degree in political science with a concentration in Afro-American studies. She went on to receive her master’s in Afro-American studies from the University of California–Los Angeles, and a doctorate from Bowling Green State University in American culture studies, specializing in critical studies in film, media, and culture.

Cover of When Baseball  Isn't White, Straight and Male: The media and difference in the national pasttimeShe has published a book, When Baseball Wasn’t White Straight and Male: The Media and Difference in the National Pastime, and numerous articles and book reviews. She is also the recipient of several fellowships and grants from institutions including the Peter Rollins Travel Grant from the American Culture Association and a Lausanne Dissertation Fellowship from Willamette University.

The American Studies department, the Alumni in the Classroom program and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion are sponsoring Alexander’s talk.

Grinnell College welcomes the participation of people with disabilities. You can request accommodations from Conference Operations.

Important: The College welcomes the presence of minors at all age-appropriate public events and for informal visits, with the understanding that a parent, legal guardian, or other responsible adult assumes full responsibility for their child’s safety and behavior during such visits or events. In these cases the College expects that an adult responsible for the visiting child takes measures to ensure the child’s safety and sees that the child complies with directions of College personnel. Grinnell College is not responsible for supervision of minors on campus.

Bridging Scholarship and Activism

BlainGrinnell College's celebration of Martin Luther King Jr. Day will feature a speech on Tuesday, Jan. 26, by University of Iowa Assistant Professor of History Keisha N. Blain.

Although Jan. 18 was the King Holiday, the College is celebrating it on Jan. 26, the day after classes begin for the 2016 spring semester.

Blain's speech, titled "Bridging Scholarship and Activism: Reflections on the #Charlestonsyllabus," will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Joe Rosenfield '25 Center Room 101. Immediately following the talk, Blain will join attendees in a buffet dinner. Both the speech and dinner are free and open to the public.

"Dr. Blain is a rising academic whose work demonstrates how scholarship and activism for social change can and must be connected," said Professor of History Sarah Purcell, who also directs the Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights

"She will speak about connections in her own work on African American history," Purcell added, "and her work to educate the public about historical context necessary for understanding the Charleston shootings and continuing to combat white supremacy. Anyone with an interest in racial justice, current affairs, or history should not miss this talk."

Blain is one of the co-developers #Charlestonsyllabus, a Twitter movement and crowdsourced list of reading recommendations relating to the history of racial violence in the United States. It was created in response to the racially motivated shooting that took place in June 2015 during a Bible study class in a church in Charleston, South Carolina. The reading list has drawn international media attention from news outlets such as PBS, BBC, NPR, The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times.

Blain also is a co-editor of "Charleston Syllabus: Readings on Race, Racism and Racial Violence," forthcoming later this year from the University of Georgia Press. In addition, she is completing her first solo-authored book, "Contesting the Global Color Line: Black Women, Nationalist Politics, and Internationalism," which is forthcoming from the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Grinnell College's Rosenfield Program in Public Affairs, International Relations, and Human Rights is sponsoring Blain's speech and the buffet dinner. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion is co-sponsoring the events.